Researching The Royal Canadian Regiment

Visit of Canadian Guard of Honor to Washington, D.C.

The Connecting File, Volume VI, No. 4; December 1927

An event of historic interest occurred when a Canadian Guard of Honour visited Washington, D.C., on the 11th November, in connection with the unveiling of a Memorial, erected by the people of Canada in Arlington Cemetery, to United States soldiers who lost their lives in the Great War while fighting with the Canadian Expeditionary Force.

The Guard assembled in Toronto on the 26th October and was quartered partly in Stanley Barracks and partly in the Coliseum.

It was composed of detachments from the undermentioned units:

Other Ranks:

The personnel was drawn from Halifax, St. John's, P.Q., London, Toronto, Quebec and Kingston.

The following officers accompanied the Guard:

The Bands were "massed" and placed under the direction of Capt. O'Neil, Director of Music, R. 22nd Regt., assisted by Lieut. Harrison, Director of Music, The R. C. R.

The two weeks in T oron to were devoted to Ceremonial and the fitting of pre-war Full Dress.

During the above period the Guard was inspected on three occasions by the Adjutant-General, and by the D.O.C., M.D. No.2.

The Guard left Toronto by special train at 1.45 p.m. on the 10th November, arriving in Washington early the following morning.

The Bands and Pipers were taken to Washington Barracks, D.C., while the remainder of the Guard were allotted quarters in Fort Myer, Va.

The Canadian Officers were the guests of Colonel Coxe, Chief-of-Staff, Washington Command, and the officers at Fort Myer, and those who had the privilege of being entertained by the American officers will never forget their kindness and hospitality.

The Bands gave a concert at Keith's Theatre at 11.45 a.m. on the 11th November, under the direction of Lieut. L. K. Harrison, The R.C.R., and were afterwards entertained at lunch, at Picardi's Restaurant, by the American Legion. The officers were guests at a lunch given on the same day, by the officers of Fort Myer, at the Army and Navy Club, in Washington.

At 3.30 p.m. on the 11th November, the Guard took up its position in Arlington Cemetery for the unveiling ceremony. Facing it was a Guard of Honour of equal strength drawn from the 3rd Battalion, 12th United States Infantry.

No more fitting description could be given of the Memorial Service which followed, than the editorial which appeared in th'e Washington Star, and which is quoted below:

Flowers of The Forest

In connection with the beautiful ceremonies held at Arlington yesterday on the occasion of the unveiling, the tender and the acceptance of the cross given by Canada in admiring memory of United States citizens who died in service with Dominion troops, Washington enjoyed a military spectacle as unusual and educational as .it was colorful and inspiring.

For the first time since General Ross led his regulars down Pennsylvania Avenue in 1814 were the armed land forces of Britain, in scarlet, blue and gold, and in time-honoured tartans, seen here in any number. To say that these infantrymen, half Anglo-Saxon and Celtic and half French-Canadian by birth or by descent, made a highly impressive appearance is to put it mildly. No finer looking body of young men was ever drawn up in or near the Nation's Capital.

The Stars and Stripes and the Great Union of the United Kingdom were equally in evidence. Scattered in the stands were other gala uniforms and headgear reminiscen t of the glory of Britain on many a hard-fought fieldthe bearskin shako under which the regulars charged Bree's Hill; the Kilmarnock bonnet of the Scot; the broad stetson of the Northwest Mounted Policeman; the sealskin cap of the rifleman, whose green tunic was adopted to shield him from the unerring aim of the patriot colonist of these very shores; the newly designed dress garb of the new and important air force.

For the first time, as far as can be ascertained, Washington had the privilege of the sight and the sound of a full Highland pipe band-a score of pipers and half as many drummers. As this picturesque unit, resplendent in tartans and ostrich plumes, paraded the greensward in slow time, with muffled drums and with pipes pealing the strains of that most popular of "Laments," "The Flowers of the Forest"-now withered away, as the old song has it-it may have come to the minds of- those there that bod.ies of American lads washed ashore on Hebridean Isles from torpedoed troop ships were carried reveren tIy to lonely hillside graves and preceded by young boys and old men playing "Lochaber No More" in friendly sorrow.

The flags; the brilliantly uniformed ranks, standing vis-a-vis to equal lines of United States troops clad in that olive drab which was worn in war by all born both south and north of the three-thousand-mile-Iong and utterly unfortified border line; the sacred music of the church militant; the azure sky; the hues of the trees, which seemed to have been kept on beyond their time in honour of the visitors from the land of the maple leaf-all these were but adjuncts of an evident feeling of deepest and friendliest sentiment, which reached its climax in the brief but eloquently heartfelt speeches of the War Secretaries of the two Commonwealths.

It is safe to say that not a man, woman or child who was present came away without being the better for witnessing this exemplification of the deep fundamental friendship between the two great peoples who speak the same language and fight for the same cause. Furthermore, it is a pity that Americans of a certain type just now in the lime light, in whose oddly developed minds the dates 1776, 1812, 1917 and 1927 seem to have become inextricably mixed, could not have been there in full force and to have come away more wise, more thoughtful and, above all. more silent.

The officers of the Guard were invited to a "The Dansant" in Fort Myer after the unveiling ceremony.

In the evening they were entertained at dinner at the Canadian Legation, by the Hon. Vincent Massey, The R.C.R. Band, under Lieut. Harrison, rendering a concert during the dinner.

The remainder of the Guard on Armistice night were the guests of the American Legion at a vaudeville performance in Fox's Theatre, and afterwards at a supper and dance in the Willard Hotel.

On the morning of the 12th November the Guard marched about one mile through the streets of Washington to the White House Grounds, where it was reviewed by President Coolidge.

Before entraining on the afternoon of the 12th November, the entire Guard was entertained at tea in the Canadian Legation, the Honourable the Minister and Mrs. Massey shaking hands with, and saying "Good-bye" to each individual member.

The Guard arrived in Toronto on the morning of the 13th Novem,ber and the troops dispersed to their several stations, carrying with them happy memories of a most pleasant and successful visit.

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In connection with the Guard of Honour, the Commanding Officer received letters of appreciation from Colonel The Honourable J. L. Ralston, C.M.G., D.S.O., Minister of National Defence, from the Honourable Vincent Massey, Canadian Minister to the United States and from Major-General H. A. Panet, C.B., C.M.G., 0.5.0., Adjutant-General, which are published hereunder:

MINISTER OF NATIONAL DEFENCE:

Ottawa, Canada,
November 21st, 1927.

Dear Colonel,

I would like to express my own pleasure and satisfaction at the part which the members of The Royal Canadian Regiment took in the Ceremony at Arlington Cemetery at Washington, on the 11th inst.

I do not think I could say more than that they maintained the very best traditions of The R. C. R., and that I am satisfied that no troops anywhere could have been better turned out, or have shown finer training and discipline than those of The R. C. R. and Royal 22nd, which made up the Guard of Honour. They were a credit to Canada. The Band, under Capt. O'Neill and Lieut. Harrison, was equally commendable, and made an outstanding contribution to the success of the occasion.

I want to express, also, my appreciation of the work of Major Greene, the Officer in Command of the Guard of Honour. His word of command, his precision, and his steadiness, added marked dignity to the Ceremony. Capt. Fenton, also, in command of the Colour Party, admirably performed his duties.

Let me congratulate you, and your Officers, and other ranks of your Unit, on the faultless showing which The R.C.R. detachment made.

Sincerely yours,
(Signed) J. L. RALSTON.

CANADIAN LEGATION

WASHINGTON,
15th November, 1927.

My Dear Colonel:

As the Officer Commanding The Royal Canadian Regiment, I wish to send you just a line to tell you how very proud we Canadians, in Washington, were of the appearance and behaviour of the men of the composite Guard of Honour, who came here to take part in the ceremonies of last Friday and Saturday. You will, no doubt, have heard from other sources of the very cordial reception our troops received on all sides, and one could not but feel that it was also a very genuine one.

The playing of the double band was very excellent and was greatly appreciated. The R.C.R. section of the band played in the evening at the Legation and delighted us all.

I, personally, am most grateful for the way in which each and every man in the whole Canadian Guard of Honour played his part, and I congratulate you sincerely on having contributed to the occasion such a very fine detachment from your command.

In a few days, I shall send you, for your Officers' Mess, a photograph of our troops taken at the White House, which will be of some historic interest.

Yours sincerely,
(Signed) VINCENT MASSEY.

THE DEFENCE COUNCIL.

21st November, 1927.

My Dear Colonel,

I would have written before but we have been rushed at the Department.

I wish to express to you how much the Minister appreciates the good work done by your representatives on the Guard of Honour which attended the unveiling ceremony at Arlington Cemetery last week. To me, also, it was most gratifying.

All ranks played the game and were on their toes at all times. They did great credit to Canada and we are all proud of them. Will you please extend to the officers and other ranks my sincere thanks, for their good work.

The Minister is writing to you, I understand, himself.

Believe me, Yours sincerely,
(Signed) HENRI A. PANET.

Pro Patria

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